Hindustan Unilever is one of the fastest growing companies in India. It is present in India even before independence. With headquarter in Mumbai; it has more than 18000 employees and over 1800 business partners. It owns famous brands like Lux, Pond’s, Vaseline, Lipton, Pureit etc in India. It owns 29 manufacturing facilities and has revenue of around Rs. 30170 Crore (INR) in 2014-15. It is no. 1 in homecare, hair care, laundry care and skin care but no. 2 in oral care and beverages. The products are aggressively marketed and known to be used by two out of three Indians. (HUL, 2015)
India’s deregulatory environment has helped MNCs in India to expand into various products and services, after 1991 HUL also took advantage of this situation and merged with Tata Oil Mills Company and Lakme Limited enabling HUL to enter new markets of cosmetics and food oil of which it was not part before and wanted to enter. Later on in 1994 it took over Kimberly Clark Corporation in order to take over marketing of Huggies diapers and Kotex sanitary pads. HUL does not support any political party or government by funding its operations since it is a business entity and wants to restrict its operations to that field only, also it knows how sensitive people of India are in terms of political alliances. However, such MNCs, due to large funds reserved for helping the government in improving the livelihood of people they sometimes tend to exert pressure on government to pass out a certain law that’s favoring them. (BUSINESS OVERVIEW OF HINDUSTAN UNILEVER)
In 2009 when the whole world faced a major economic crisis, Asian countries were least hit due to their not-so-strong reliance on interest based investments. When Unilever was making in most of the countries abroad it remained profitable in India although profits declined. Raw material sourcing is the first step of supply chain and fluctuation in them could disturb the pricing of the products. The brands that Unilever sells are everyday products so people are sensitive to their pricing and constant price changes can put them off. Chemicals and palm oil are the major raw material used and inflation keeps eating the bottom line for soaps and detergents which are formed from these raw materials. India stands on lowest level when it comes to per capita consumption on personal care products; HUL has been trying to change that perception for years. In India HUL faces direct competition not only by MNCs but also local producers who are successful to the extent that it is almost impossible to break their market share and loyalty. (Wikinvest)
HUL launched program “Shakti” for women in rural areas to empower them and make them independent, earning their own livelihood and spending that income on improving lifestyle of whole family. The project started off with one woman being selected from each village as “Shakti woman” who would buy Unilever products from company representatives at a discount and sell these products for a profit at her own village. Another initiative by HUL includes increasing awareness among villagers about the importance of cleanliness through Lifebuoy Hand washing Programme since 2010. Through Pureit it is providing clean drinking water to millions of people. It has also controlled environmental pollution by curtailing CO2 emissions, reducing waste products and usage of water. HUL also promotes Equal Employment Opportunity to all and encourage women to be a part workforce even after marriage and children and make it easy for them to maintain a balance in their worklife and household responsibilities, by opening daycares at offices, providing flexi timings and work home facility.
For HUL technological development in India means more connectivity to people. Now there are apps available which would inform the consumers when their favorite brands are being restocked at their nearest supermarkets. For HUL it has become easier to manage its large supply network and monitor the inventory situation. Factories have been installed with automated operations which have eliminated the errors that manual work could produce and also increased the productivity and efficiency.
HUL has been in highlight for breaching environmental laws of dumping hazardous chemical on a nearby land endangering lives of citizens and employees. This incident happened at Kodaikanal factory where Unilever was accused of dumping and selling scrap of glass material containing Mercury, when this was brought under light, HUL not only closed down the factory but also launched investigation and tried to trace all the material that has been sold to the dealer. The results of investigation showed that illegal selling of scrap Mercury did take place which is the breach in code of conduct however the manufacturing process itself was safe as was duly audited by both the company and relevant authority. The company then had to clean all the scrap waste from the soil and offered to stop the contaminated water from down the valley through placement of silt traps. They took permission from both Indian and U.S. government to transport back the waste material to U.S. for further processing. (Kodaikanal, India, 2015)
HUL makes sure it adheres to all local laws of the state in which it is operating. For example in Gujarat due to floods and drought the government put restrictions on prices of all goods and services available in order to provide some relief to people, HUL could not increase price of its brands despite of high cost of production. Moreover at some states there are certain environmental laws which must be followed and HUL has to abide by those. Basic laws are more or less the same with slight variations and Unilever has to make sure that it does not violate any laws due to negligence, thinking that same laws will be applied everywhere.
BUSINESS OVERVIEW OF HINDUSTAN UNILEVER. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from UK Essays: http://www.ukessays.com/essays/marketing/business-overview-of-hindustan-unilever-marketing-essay.php
HUL. (2015). Hindustan Unilever Limited Factsheet . Retrieved December 15, 2015, from HUL: https://www.hul.co.in/Images/hul-factsheet_tcm1255-436331_en.pdf
Kodaikanal, India. (2015, August). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from Unilever: https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/what-matters-to-you/kodaikanal-india.html
Wikinvest. (n.d.). Hindustan Unilever. Retrieved December 15, 2015, from Wikinvest: http://www.wikinvest.com/stock/Hindustan_Unilever_(BOM:500696)